Author, actor, presenter and brainbox Stephen Fry is a technophile of long standing (reputedly, he was the second ever owner of a Mac in the UK after Douglas Adams), and he’s also a major Twitter advocate. In an interview with the BBC, he propounds an interesting theory about much of the current “flavour of the month” coverage of Twitter:
If people want to announce their new this or their new that, they’re going “I’m not going to do an interview, I’m not going to sit in the Dorchester for seven days having one interviewer after another come to me, I’m just going to Tweet it, and point them to my website and forget the press”.And the press are already struggling enough – God knows they’ve already lost their grip on news to some extent. If they lose their grip on comment and gossip and being a free PR machine as well, they’re really in trouble. So naturally they’re simultaneously obsessed because they use it (as it fills up their column inches) but they’re also very against it. So you’ll get an increasing number of commentators going “Aren’t you just fed up with Twitter? Oh, if Stephen Fry tells me what he’s having for breakfast one more time, I think I’ll vomit.” They really will have a big go at it because it attacks them, it cuts them out.
I’d be the last to discount the prospect of media sour grapes, but I suspect a lot of the Twitter coverage has as much to do with (1) genuine confusion about Twitter’s usefulness and (2) the endless hype cycle that typifies coverage of just about everything, not just potentially threatening technology. I also don’t see it as a case of either/or — undoubtedly Twitter and its ilk provide new options, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the old ones. What do you think? Photo from Wikimedia Commons